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Romford dancer in running to replace Len Goodman as new Strictly judge

10:31 01 December 2016

Gary Edwards presenting Dancing With The Stars All Access in America.

Gary Edwards presenting Dancing With The Stars All Access in America.

James Kenneth

“At the end of the day it’s what the BBC wants,” said a top dancer who is in the running to become Strictly’s new judge when Len Goodman retires from the show.

Gary Edwards who stands 6ft 4in tall, is known as the Ballroom Giant. Photo: Stephen MarinoGary Edwards who stands 6ft 4in tall, is known as the Ballroom Giant. Photo: Stephen Marino

“I’m qualified in nine styles seen on Strictly Come Dancing,” continued Gary Edwards, 50.

“If they want a replacement for Len, I’m the obvious choice, I’m most like him, but if they want to go in a different direction there’s Karen Hardy and Anton Du Beke.

“They have a few options. I would love it to be me but if not, I have so much other things I can do. I have been so lucky and so blessed teaching amazing people.”

Standing at 6ft 4ins tall, the dancer and judge, who grew up on Clockhouse Lane, Collier Row, and then Mawney Road, Romford, is known in the business as the Ballroom Giant.

Gary fronts the spin-off show of America’s version of Strictly Dancing with the Stars All Access, which is live-streamed on the internet at the same time as the main show.

He spoke to the Recorder about his fond memories of Havering and his dancing journey.

Gary Edwards with Len Goodman.Gary Edwards with Len Goodman.

“My dad was a book maker and had a shop in Gidea Park, near the station. My biggest memory is getting on the bus to go to Forest Lodge School [now Bower Park Academy].”

The TV presenter began his dancing career as a child when he noticed that his older brother got to join their parents at dinner dances, while he stayed at home with a babysitter.

“I complained to mum, who said, ‘If you can learn to dance you can come along’ so I did.”

In an amazing feat, at his first competition in Blackpool aged 10, Gary won the ballroom and Latin dances.

From there he went from strength to strength.

“I saw Len at Romford Community Centre doing a show with this then wife Cherry Kingston. At school, people were calling me every name you could imagine.”

Gary, who is married to wife Sandy, 48, with two children, Giancarlo, 19 and Gianluca, 14, said he was “bombarded” with homophobic abuse.

“Len was who I wanted to be. I thought if he could do dance, then I could too.”

The dancer went on to become number one in the World 10 dance, gained a coveted job teaching the Brunei royal family to dance and taught pop superstar Michael Jackson the cha cha.

Gary, who lived in Gidea Park up until six years ago, now splits his time between Miami and Leigh-on-Sea, presenting TV shows and judging international dancing competitions.

“I had a meeting with BBC Worldwide. They are not going to disclose anything until January,” he continued.

“I want Strictly, that would be the perfect thing for a dancer.

“I would go for myself but if it wasn’t me I would go for Karen.”

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